Pathfinder 2E Pathfinder 2e: is it RAW or RAI to always take 10 minutes and heal between encounters?

CapnZapp

Legend
This seems to be the key problem. Pathfinder 2e does not sufficiently communicate in your opinion that the GM is empowered to make rulings. It’s implied in the Core Rulebook, but the Gamemastery Guide makes it explicit. It goes on to list a few examples, including things that could possibly be feats someday (such as swinging from a chandelier or throwing sand in an opponent’s eyes), but it says it’s okay to let players try them.
The key problem with the GMG GM sections is that it comes off as written by people only very superficially knowledgeable of Pathfinder 2.

The advice on how to create and group encounters, for instance, the bit about the heroes infiltrating a castle, is a recipe for disaster in PF2. (combining even two moderate encounters can easily lead to a TPK - a very significant difference between the two editions) I can't prove it of course, but to me it feels lifted straight out of (appropriate) advice for PF1.

So excuse me if I don't have a high confidence level for the passage you quote. It comes across as wishful thinking, expressive of what a game they wished they'd designed rather than the game they actually designed.

In short: the actual design defeats the goal of empowering the GM.

As I have stated: PF2 is not, I repeat not, a game that trusts its GM. Paizo writes rules for every single little thing. That is the obvious indicator of a game that is not willing to leave decisions in the GMs hands.

Again: just because Paizo says their game does this or that does not make it so. Yes, they claim they have created such a game, but when you look at how the game actually works, I'm pointing out that there is nothing there to indicate they have met that goal. (That's my criticism!)

If by sheer luck those chandeliers-swinging examples haven't been invalidated yet by feats (Swashbuckler feats perhaps?) they will soon be. But this misses the bigger point: how are a GM to know when and where he or she can be generous and issue rulings? By learning dozens and dozens of feats by heart, is the answer and it is unreasonable and needs to be called out as such!

Tl;dr: please don't meet my criticism by pointing toward generic aspirations. I am pointing to actual rules and actual rule interactions. I hope you agree a game designer can't just fix flaws in their design by hopeful words!
 
Last edited:

log in or register to remove this ad

kenada

Legend
Supporter
Sigh. This comes across as grasping at straws to avoid having agree Paizo's design is (much) less than ideal.
Eh, I’ve been pretty forthcoming here about my dislike of certain elements in Pathfinder 2e. I don’t like skill actions at all. I think bringing them forward from Pathfinder 1e was a mistake, and they could have retained the degrees of success approach with something simpler to use and adjudicate. I just don’t agree with you regarding the problem skill feats purportedly create.

Okay, let me agree that there can be other approaches that are bad and even just as bad. That is, let's not make this out to be "your idea is bad too so PF2's system isn't so worse off".

In other words, you are skipping all the other criticisms I have, and you zero in on just "your suggestion can create complaints too". It's hard to not interpret that as trying to wriggle out of my rather massive criticism against the PF2 implementation.

So. If it helps, consider me instead saying the feat gives you a reroll (aka advantage) if that makes you feel better. And this is definitely not limited to just Make an Impression.
The only difference between what you’re suggesting and what we’re suggesting is that your approach explicitly enumerates the trade-off instead of leaving it up to the GM to decide. If I say, “you can do (some activity) with a cost, and the feat lets you do it free,” and you say, “the rules let you do some activity, and the feat gives you a bonus while doing it,” what’s the difference? The cost has been shifted, but there’s still functionally a cost. The only difference is in how it’s accounted.

I'm talking generalities. Just about every skill has several use cases that feel incredibly constrictive and artificially limited, and then you realize that is to justify adding a feat to the game that lifts those weird restrictions.
That’s the problem. Whenever we start digging into details, the criticisms don’t hold up. Maybe a few feats are bad, but a few bad feats don’t show a systemic problem.

The way PF2 prohibits the generic character from doing things at all, unless she has this or that very specific feat, is really really annoying game design on so many levels.
That’s only the case if you take it that way. I don’t think the system necessitates running it the way you claim it does. If you let someone do something at a cost, and a skill feat lets them do it for free, you haven’t invalidated the skill feat by your affordance. Yes, maybe now it’s less valuable in a strict sense, but if the game is more fun for everyone, then isn’t that a good thing?

On the other hand, if the players hate that and prefer you don’t do it, then where’s the problem? They don’t want you to be a permissive GM. They want you to take a very rigid approach to adjudicating the system that preserves (though I would argue increases) the value of their feat choices. Maybe it makes for a miserable experience, but that’s what they asked for and received.

It means players must carefully comb through all the rules and all the feats. Restrictions are not highlighted or spelled out. It's very easy to just assume you can do stuff and then be told you needed to take a feat available at level 1. There needed to be giant exclamation marks all over the place cross-referencing each weird limit with its absolving feat(s):
"please realize you can only crawl stupidly slow unless you pick Quick Crawler"
"please realize you can't climb with a weapon in hand unless you pick Combat Climber"
"please realize you can only jump hilariously short distances unless you pick Cloud Jumper"
This stuff is simply not mentioned in the sections on crawling, climbing or jumping.
It does tell you. Crawl tells you how fast you move (5′ in one action). Climb indicates in its requirements you must have both hands free. Leap and Long Jump tell you how far you can jump (Leap up to 10′ and Long Jump up to your speed based on the DC). Again, that’s how exception-based design works: you follow the general rule until you something brings the exception into play (a feat, a spell, the GM, etc).

...the list goes on and on, and is probably growing with each new splatbook :( Every single little aspect of pretty much every behavior feels carefully combed out "how can we squeeze seven feats out of this simple action?" That is just a question no game designer should ever ask themselves!

The same issues surface on the other side of the GM screen. I would guesstimate that as a green PF2 GM probably two out of three times I tried being a good GM that say "yes" or "yes but" by allowing people to cut corners and avoid weird artifacts of the system (anything from jumping across tables to reaching that one extra square to open a door without spending a whole extra move action) I will later be reminded by a disappointed player that I just gave out for free what a whole feat is about. Using Recall Knowledge on tracks you find in a forest. Using Intelligence to gather gossip in a village. And so on and so on.
Are you talking about Survey Wildlife? I’m not sure which feat you mean by the gossip example, but it’s my understanding the designers consider it bad design for a feat to change which ability score an activity uses (so that would be a bad feat). Regardless, I agree with you here on Survey Wildlife as well as on whatever feats would let you change the ability score (becuase that’s supposed to be bad design).

I think that should be implicitly part of the Survival skill that you can identify the local wildlife and make an appropriate Recall Knowledge check about it. I can see ways of adjudicating that activity that would avoid invalidating the feat (make it take an hour or a day), but this is a case where one does need to know about the skill feat to make rulings, which shouldn’t be the case normally. I agree that’s a problem, but I don’t agree that it reflects a systemic one.

Personally, I’d probably just get rid of Survey Wildlife or change it. It’s a bad feat because it has you roll twice, which is an example of rolling to failure. It makes more sense for the general case to roll twice and the feat to let you roll once or to roll once and for the feat to give you a bonus. Again, Paizo dropped the ball with this one, but I still don’t agree it represents a systemic issue with Pathfinder 2e.

Simple obvious stuff that Paizo is sending a clear message to stop doing: "Don't just allow that, we have created feats the players need to take!"

It is a really really frustrating game design, dead set against the very goals Paizo is professing to have for their game.
Given the amount of disagreement on this point, it doesn’t seem like the message was as clearly sent as you say.
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
The key problem with the GMG GM sections is that it comes off as written by people only very superficially knowledgeable of Pathfinder 2.

The advice on how to create and group encounters, for instance, the bit about the heroes infiltrating a castle, is a recipe for disaster in PF2. (combining even two moderate encounters can easily lead to a TPK - a very significant difference between the two editions) I can't prove it of course, but to me it feels lifted straight out of (appropriate) advice for PF1.

So excuse me if I don't have a high confidence level for the passage you quote. It comes across as wishful thinking, expressive of what a game they wished they'd designed rather than the game they actually designed.

In short: the actual design defeats the goal of empowering the GM.

As I have stated: PF2 is not, I repeat not, a game that trusts its GM. Paizo writes rules for every single little thing. That is the obvious indicator of a game that is not willing to leave decisions in the GMs hands.

Again: just because Paizo says their game does this or that does not make it so. Yes, they claim they have created such a game, but when you look at how the game actually works, I'm pointing out that there is nothing there to indicate they have met that goal. (That's my criticism!)

If by sheer luck those chandeliers-swinging examples haven't been invalidated yet by feats (Swashbuckler feats perhaps?) they will soon be. But this misses the bigger point: how are a GM to know when and where he or she can be generous and issue rulings? By learning dozens and dozens of feats by heart, is the answer and it is unreasonable and needs to be called out as such!

Tl;dr: please don't meet my criticism by pointing toward generic aspirations. I am pointing to actual rules and actual rule interactions. I hope you agree a game designer can't just fix flaws in their design by hopeful words!
The issue I take with this is many of us are not experiencing (or did not experience, since I’m not running PF2 anymore) the purported problems. Many of us did the things the designers write about in the GMG (either at their suggestion or because that’s just how we roll), and the game operated fine. It did what we wanted, and it didn’t result in adverse outcomes. When you say that, “the GMG GM sections … come … off as written by people only very superficially knowledgeable of Pathfinder 2,” it doesn’t resonate with me. What it does tell me is you want something very different out of Pathfinder 2e than what it offers.

You’ve said in the past you wanted to run a kick-in-the-door game. In that context, I can see how the advice on combining encounters would be problematic. If you’re playing a game where you kick in the door and kill the monsters, and exploration is just something you hand-wave, then PF2 is going to be constantly getting in your way. It obviously expects much broader engagement beyond just encounter mode, which is why there’s so much detail provided on exploration and exploration activities.

I don’t think you’re wrong for wanting to play the game the way you do. It’s understandable being disappointed that the 2nd edition of a game where you could play the way you want is less capable or requires changes to habits to make things work. However, I still don’t think that represents a systemic problem. D&D 5e doesn’t do what I want. Pathfinder 2e is closer, but it has other elements I don’t like. So I stick to games that better reflect what I want. I’m running Worlds Without Number now because it’s an OSR-adjacent game, which is what I want, and it provides for some tactical options and character customization, which is what my players want.

Is WWN the perfect game? No. If you think Pathfinder 2e is obtusely written, WWN is way worse. It’s Gygaxian in its verbosity. WWN’s support for exploration-driven play is arguably worse than PF2’s. However, since it is based on old-school D&D (B/X), I can easily hack the things I miss out of it by adapting them from other systems (in this case, Old-School Essentials). We’re now using a custom, 72 page guide that covers everything except character customization elements and most random tables. But I digress. My point is it’s fine if a game doesn’t work out for you. That’s why I switched my campaign from PF2 to something that worked better for me.
 


Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
When it comes to skills I think Pathfinder Second Edition is in a weird spot that not many games are. Pathfinder Second Edition is a game where you start out sweating goblins and end up thinking it's not a totally crazy idea to get your best buds together to fight a demon lord. Where taking on pit fiends and ancient wyrms is a Tuesday. You want the fiction of what characters are capable outside of combat to match what they are capable of inside it. Expecting a GM to be able to quickly reason what a 12th level fighter should be capable of doing with Athletics with that kind of power curve is a bit insane if you expect any kind of consistency. I know I would have a good deal of trouble keeping the fiction consistent in PF2 without a defined skill system.

Lots of games leave this kind of stuff up to the GM, but they also generally have far more consistent power levels. It's lot easier to make consistent rulings in something like Conan, Dune or Vampire because those games have much more level stakes.
 

Are you talking about Survey Wildlife? I’m not sure which feat you mean by the gossip example, but it’s my understanding the designers consider it bad design for a feat to change which ability score an activity uses (so that would be a bad feat). Regardless, I agree with you here on Survey Wildlife as well as on whatever feats would let you change the ability score (becuase that’s supposed to be bad design).

No, he's talking about Streetwise, which let's you use Society to Gather Information instead of Diplomacy. It's basically using a different skill to do an activity, say like an Int-based Rogue who doesn't want to specialize in Diplomacy to go out and get info. Don't see why it's that bad, to be honest, but I guess I'm not searching for problems like some are.

This whole argument @CapnZapp is trying to make is just so steeped in broad-generalities and stupid minutiae that it is borderline incoherent. We can't actually be specific about which feats do what, but we're going to complain about the basics of movement and why you can't just immediately break them?

Like, are we really complaining about a 5' speed on crawling? How often is this a problem? We are talking a game that allows you to move multiple times in your turn, so functionally when you just crawl it's going to be just over half your movement speed (or more, if you are slower). How often does crawling in combat really come up for people, outside of trying to create some weird special tactic? And at that point, why not just let it be a feat like Nimble Crawl? How often do scenarios hinge on someone being able to move about a vent like they are a xenomorph?

Are we really complaining about climb requirements? Like, having to use both hands and feet while climbing is suddenly an unworkable requirement when it comes to climbing? Really? There are plenty of feats that get around that problem and I've named them innumerable times. And if you want to take care of it forever, it's just the gamebreaking 1st level feat of COMBAT CLIMBER~! that you need to take. Again, these requirements allow players to think about what they've taken and how to use the skills and advantages they have to address the problems. That's just good design: create a problem and give the players different options with which to solve it.

Are we really complaining about jump distance? Cap, you talk about how it's a "hilariously small" distance, but compared to 5E it's a way better system. 5E, you're always stuck at your Str unless you manage to get a few features which slightly increase it. But with PF2, it's exactly the system you wanted: it's a skill DC, which means over time you'll be able to leap further more consistently each time. A 6th level fighter who is an Expert with Athletics will automatically jump 20 feet with Assurance and can potentially jump further if they want to, instead of having a hard limit set by your Strength. This is what you were talking about, and yet you get hung up on
Cloud Jump, a specialty feat for super-fast people who want to leap 15-20 squares at a time.

Honestly, the complaining over small niche feats just blows my mind. I get maybe complaining about not enough skill upgrades, but feats get handed out like candy and there's always levels with General feats where you can net a lot of gain from just taking a simple 1st level feat.

And at this point, I really can't comprehend the sort of lack of self-awareness one would have to have to say they know the game better than everyone disagreeing with them and even the people who wrote the GMG... but I'm also not surprised by it.
 
Last edited:

That said, Group Impression and the like are bad design.

If your rules say a certain activity is possible but hard, and then offer a feat that grants +5 or advantage or whatever, then you have a much better, friendlier ruleset.

And it is still exception based!

These permissive feats are bad design. It is baffling they went this way.

That said, I don't think it's a huge lift to houserule redesign them. A +5 bonus is actually ok I think since Feats are very specific for the most part, it works out.

I run the game based on narratively set DCs based on level and adjust these bad feats when needed. Haven't played 2e a lot but seems to work fine and is not a ton of work.

So, anyone can attempt to contact a criminal boss but if you are trying to get an audience with a Jabba the Hut at level 7 you are facing a level 15 check (my view of Jabba in the fiction) and the +5 from Criminal Connections gives you a much better chance at success and avoiding crit fails.

Do I wish they had done it differently and is it annoying? Yes. But if you like the rest of the system, then I think you can deal with the permissive skill feats with reasonable effort. If you have a big list of flaws, of which this is only one, then sure, find another game
 

These permissive feats are bad design. It is baffling they went this way.

That said, I don't think it's a huge lift to houserule redesign them. A +5 bonus is actually ok I think since Feats are very specific for the most part, it works out.

I run the game based on narratively set DCs based on level and adjust these bad feats when needed. Haven't played 2e a lot but seems to work fine and is not a ton of work.

So, anyone can attempt to contact a criminal boss but if you are trying to get an audience with a Jabba the Hut at level 7 you are facing a level 15 check (my view of Jabba in the fiction) and the +5 from Criminal Connections gives you a much better chance at success and avoiding crit fails.

Do I wish they had done it differently and is it annoying? Yes. But if you like the rest of the system, then I think you can deal with the permissive skill feats with reasonable effort. If you have a big list of flaws, of which this is only one, then sure, find another game

Ugh... Just granting bonuses to certain actions is exactly the sort of thing that I'd want to get away from. Not only are you going to create a laundry list of new penalties and skill actions to memorize, but granting a bunch of expansive bonuses is going to get you into territory where "Well, can I get this bonus to count for this action because I'm doing it like this?" sort of stuff. I'd rather avoid negotiations as to whether this adjacent usage of something counts for this situation and just give clear-cut exceptions.

Like, I have more problems with Survey Wildlife than I do Group Impression, because I think the bones of the Attitude system work fine as a guideline for making checks, and I think (given the numbers used for Group Impression) it's easy to use that feat in a more generalized fashion. Survey Wildlife allowing you to make a second check is just unnecessary, though; it'd be more sensible to combine it into one Survival check, as a sort of off-brand use of Nature with a small penalty. Keeps the niche of the Nature skill while allowing non-Int characters to use their Survival skill in a useful, more broad way (at a small, upfront cost).
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
No, he's talking about Streetwise, which let's you use Society to Gather Information instead of Diplomacy. It's basically using a different skill to do an activity, say like an Int-based Rogue who doesn't want to specialize in Diplomacy to go out and get info. Don't see why it's that bad, to be honest, but I guess I'm not searching for problems like some are.
I suspected it might be that one, but changing the skill is different from changing the ability score. Changing the skill is supposed to be within the purview of feats, and that makes sense. Skills do certain things, and feats reflect training or some other aspect of your character’s development. If you want to do something different with a skill (like identifying architecture by how easily you can smash through it), then you need a feat representing that in order to recall Recall Knowledge with Athletics to identify structures. That’s just how things work in most D&Ds that have a skill system (like PF2).

Edit: Arguably, unusual skill uses should probably be allowed with a penalty. I’m pretty sure there’s some advice to that effect, but I can’t remember which section it’s in. It’s in the Adjusting Difficulty section. There’s also an Alternative Skills subsection in the section on running Recall Knowledge.
 
Last edited:

I suspected it might be that one, but changing the skill is different from changing the ability score. Changing the skill is supposed to be within the purview of feats, and that makes sense. Skills do certain things, and feats reflect training or some other aspect of your character’s development. If you want to do something different with a skill (like identifying architecture by how easily you can smash through it), then you need a feat representing that in order to recall Recall Knowledge with Athletics to identify structures. That’s just how things work in most D&Ds that have a skill system (like PF2).

Yeah, it's weird to attack what is pretty standard RPG skill design.

Edit: Arguably, unusual skill uses should probably be allowed with a penalty. I’m pretty sure there’s some advice to that effect, but I can’t remember which section it’s in. It’s in the Adjusting Difficulty section.

lol, they've done themselves pretty well at covering themselves if you want to go that route.
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
Yeah, it's weird to attack what is pretty standard RPG skill design.
It’s a criticism I’ve seen made from the OSR perspective emphasizing player skill over character skill (“the answer is not on your character sheet”). I agree it’s a bit weird in this context since I don’t think OSR games are what CapnZapp has in mind. It could be he wants them to be handled more like approaches in Fate Accelerated, which decouples what you are doing from how you do it (e.g., one might roll Sneaky or Forceful depending on how you approach picking a lock). I don’t think that’s how PF2 or most D&Ds are designed though, and I wouldn’t fault them for that.
 

It’s a criticism I’ve seen made from the OSR perspective emphasizing player skill over character skill (“the answer is not on your character sheet”). I agree it’s a bit weird in this context since I don’t think OSR games are what CapnZapp has in mind. It could be he wants them to be handled more like approaches in Fate Accelerated, which decouples what you are doing from how you do it (e.g., one might roll Sneaky or Forceful depending on how you approach picking a lock). I don’t think that’s how PF2 or most D&Ds are designed though, and I wouldn’t fault them for that.

5E does it with tools, where you can use different ability scores for different uses of the tool proficiency: knowing something about the construction of a tunnel might be Mason's Tools (Int), while actually bricking up a wall could be Mason's Tools (Str). I know I liked letting different martials use Strength when it came to Intimidate checks.
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
5E does it with tools, where you can use different ability scores for different uses of the tool proficiency: knowing something about the construction of a tunnel might be Mason's Tools (Int), while actually bricking up a wall could be Mason's Tools (Str). I know I liked letting different martials use Strength when it came to Intimidate checks.
I had 5e in mind when I wrote “most D&Ds” because it has some OSR cues while not really being OSR. Since skills are technically optional, you’re supposed to roll the ability score that makes sense for the activity and add your proficiency as appropriate. I don’t know how often that gets done in practice. We ran skills more or less like we also did in 3e, 4e, and PF1. That was also how it was done in the few con games of 5e I’ve played.

I should also add that, technically, Pathfinder 2e lets you substitute ability scores when rolling skill checks as the GM sees fit (per Key Ability in the skills chapter).
 

While there's nothing wrong with that, my observation that it can start to degenerate into "I spend all my time trying to fish on my good attribute." Which doesn't mean it isn't a good approach, its just one that can be kind of fraught.

(And don't get me started on the inverse where the player gets to just declare the attribute and its expected that the GM will apply consequences for the approach. I understand it works for some people but I'd rather have a root canal.)
 

I had 5e in mind when I wrote “most D&Ds” because it has some OSR cues while not really being OSR. Since skills are technically optional, you’re supposed to roll the ability score that makes sense for the activity and add your proficiency as appropriate. I don’t know how often that gets done in practice. We ran skills more or less like we also did in 3e, 4e, and PF1. That was also how it was done in the few con games of 5e I’ve played.

I should also add that, technically, Pathfinder 2e lets you substitute ability scores when rolling skill checks as the GM sees fit (per Key Ability in the skills chapter).

Yeah, I typically didn't like switching up skills if I didn't need to. I tried solving that problem by doing my own homebrew with the skill system, but in the end I think this one was more up my alley. Some of the more freeform skill systems out there are interesting to me, but I wonder how much my players would litigate when such advantages would apply where. Probably should have a bit more faith, but I'm a worrywart at times.

While there's nothing wrong with that, my observation that it can start to degenerate into "I spend all my time trying to fish on my good attribute." Which doesn't mean it isn't a good approach, its just one that can be kind of fraught.

It's why I like avoiding big modifiers in Feat design: if you give them something huge, people will inevitably want to get as much out of it as they can. And that makes sense, but it can also be frustrating for both parties to litigate a bunch of edge cases on the matter.

(And don't get me started on the inverse where the player gets to just declare the attribute and its expected that the GM will apply consequences for the approach. I understand it works for some people but I'd rather have a root canal.)

Okay, so Legend of the Five Rings 5E has the interesting aspect of choosing "approaches" via your "Ring" (basically your different personality traits, associated with elements). So you can use your best attribute on something, but in doing so you might raise the difficulty because that specific approach is ill-suited for this situation.

This is most-obviously seen in their NPC design, which often have "demeanors": quick personality types which grant bonuses and penalties to social checks against them with certain rings. For example, a "Shrewd" NPC is generally clever, and thus more difficult to trick (which is done with the Air Ring), but also more easily cowed by direct conflict (using the Fire Ring approach). On the other hand, an "Assertive" NPC generally will stand up to simple appeals to logic and reason (Earth Ring) since they are stubborn, but can be more easily tricked through their stubbornness (Air Ring).

It's honestly fascinating. I desperately want to play a game with my friends because the basic mechanics are simple, but it also creates a complex give and take when it comes to one's strengths and weaknesses.
 

Okay, so Legend of the Five Rings 5E has the interesting aspect of choosing "approaches" via your "Ring" (basically your different personality traits, associated with elements). So you can use your best attribute on something, but in doing so you might raise the difficulty because that specific approach is ill-suited for this situation.

That's a legitimate decision on that, but it also is--perverse?--because it can end up meaning that you either didn't actually gain anything by choosing that approach (because the benefit of the higher attribute is washed out by the difficulty modification) so it can feel like a gotcha.

(Its one of the things I have against Storypath, the system used in some of the newer non-CoD games from Onyx Path; I understand the problem it was designed to address since I was a Scion 1e GM, but its a cure as bad as the disease far as I'm concerned since it pushes attributes toward meaninglessness).
 

Ugh... Just granting bonuses to certain actions is exactly the sort of thing that I'd want to get away from. Not only are you going to create a laundry list of new penalties and skill actions to memorize, but granting a bunch of expansive bonuses is going to get you into territory where "Well, can I get this bonus to count for this action because I'm doing it like this?" sort of stuff. I'd rather avoid negotiations as to whether this adjacent usage of something counts for this situation and just give clear-cut exceptions.

Feats in PF2e are narrow by design so not sure I see the worry. "You get a +5 bonus when using Society to try to gain an audience with crime bosses". "You get a +5 bonus when using Society to impersonate a Noble". I guess you could have players that argue the evil king is a sort of 'crime boss' or the barmaid is the 'nobility of scutlery', but that sounds like a different issue...

This is less of a burden on the game to me, because as GM I can just set a DC and the player can speak up if they have the bonus. Skills become more expansive. There doesn't have to be a big list of skill actions because if it makes sense under the skill there's no reason why you can't try it and there are no permission/gating feats to step on. You can just say yes and move on. Level 7 party. You want to use Society to impersonate a Duke in a country inn where they've heard stories but never seen the Duke -- Level 4 check. You want to impersonate a minor noble at a ball filled with nobles in the capital city. Level 15 check. That kind of impersonation is just likey outside your "tier of play" right now. But if you have the Feat, you might be able to punch above your weight.

In general, I actually like the idea of feats only adding options or giving new uses to skills. However, the way it's been implemented there are too many feats gating actions that seem like they should be part of the core skill use so it becomes unintuitive. I don't think anyone has a problem with Scare to Death gating.

Again, I don't think this is as big a deal as CapnZapp because I find it fairly easy to make some houserules and move on.

That’s only the case if you take it that way. I don’t think the system necessitates running it the way you claim it does. If you let someone do something at a cost, and a skill feat lets them do it for free, you haven’t invalidated the skill feat by your affordance. Yes, maybe now it’s less valuable in a strict sense, but if the game is more fun for everyone, then isn’t that a good thing?

At the very least, it requires knowledge of all feats so that you know when to give something a cost. There are various ways to fix it -- let anyone of the right proficiency level use any feat at a cost, rewrite the feats as bonuses, etc. So I don't consider it a terminal flaw, but I don't like the design choice.
 

In short, it is baffling Paizo went this way. I could have predicted dozens of ways the successor to Pathfinder 1 might turn out, and I would never have guessed they would go for "let's take the worst aspects of 4E and double down on those! Let's flood our game with thousands of feats, spells and items, the vast majority of each category being either interchangeable or downright suboptimal!"

To be fair, 4e did not have this permissive feat/skill issue at all that I remember. 4e had a weird two track system that some people did not like having to switch between but I actually prefer I think.

There were combat/grid uses that were very specific uses of skills and some feats modified, then out of combat 4e had a very, very abstract skill system. This was most clear in skill challenges where basically the uses were dictated by fiction and table agreement. This allowed the skill use to ramp up through the fictional tiers without any permissive feats. Permission was dictated by level / tier / table agreement. (the underlying math was the math was the math which some people didn't like). I believe feats (and powers) were mostly things like rerolls and bonuses so they remained relevant regardless of fictional positioning.
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
At the very least, it requires knowledge of all feats so that you know when to give something a cost. There are various ways to fix it -- let anyone of the right proficiency level use any feat at a cost, rewrite the feats as bonuses, etc. So I don't consider it a terminal flaw, but I don't like the design choice.
Skill actions tell you what their constraints and requirements are, so it shouldn’t be necessary to have knowledge of all feats. Just run them as written, and when a PC wants more than that, they can attempt it at a cost. This approach has the benefit of accommodating activities for which a feat hasn’t been created yet (since knowledge of all feats is unnecessary). As a rule of thumb, one should be safe increasing the DC, requiring more time, requiring more actions, etc because feats generally rely on having taken the feat as the cost for the benefit.
 
Last edited:

JmanTheDM

Explorer
I admit, this conversation, as its evolved over 18 pages is simply baffling to me - especially the ongoing objections CapnZapp has WRT the skill and feat design of PF2.

How is the below simulated exchange not a viable approach to PF2's skills and Feat "bloat".

GM: you are in a room with a chasm between you and the far door, hanging in the middle of the chasm is a chandelier.
Player: I'd like to swing across the chasm on the Chandelier
GM: OK, awesome! do you have any feats that will help you to get across?
Player option 1: Yes, I have a Chandelier swinger feat
GM: [either knows the feat or looks it up to understand how it works] OK, cool. make an acrobatics check, DC 20.
Player option 2: yes, I have monster surfing feat, which if you squint hard enough and loosely interpret could be used for this exact situation
GM: either: sure, that sounds cool, and PC's being awesome is "fun"; or sorry, that feat doesn't apply in this circumstance you'll need something else. you can use acrobatics at a DC of 20 to try and cross. the "sure, that sounds cool, do it" answer is the only case where the GM may have popcorn thrown at him - especially if 2 PCs are attempting the same thing, 1 with Chandelier swinging and the 2nd with monster surfer. adjudicate on the spot, back out of a potentially bad call once you get more information and move on...
player option 3: no, I don't have any feats to help me here
GM: [either I know there may be a feat that can support this action, in which case, I may increase the difficulty of a no-feat attempt, or I don't know (or don't care), and keep the DC at 20] OK, make an acrobatics check at DC 20.
player option 4: no, I don't, but can I try and do this with Society?
GM: no but maybe someone else can attempt the crossing with a feat or acrobatics instead? [PC brainstorming ensues]

if you have players that are anything like my players, they will:
a) chime in at decision time, letting the GM know about the special Chandelier swinger feat that THEY have. "hey, I have the chandelier swinger feat, can I try it also?", or "why are you letting him try this, they don't have the chandelier swinger feat", or "cool, let me tell you about my knowledge of PF2, by referencing the chandelier feat". any of those are signals to me, the GM, that someone has invested in this feat and therefore someone without it should likely have a higher DC, or the player with the feat more likely have a lower DC for the task. IME, players are not at all shy about speaking up about the awesome things they have, or object if I step into their niche by allowing something for another PC that they have invested in...
b) Grub for any advantage they can get to simplify this task, aid others, spending hero points, and like literally weaving all their stowed 50' lengths of ropes into a net :)...

I have never had a group of players who, when facing a chasm and a chandelier, simply walk away because, you know, nobody picked up the feat. mission failed, adventure over. this is 100% of the time a situation where the time a GM informs the player they can't do something. the failure state here is not the players, its not the rules (as the rules have AMPLE allowances for on-the-spot rulings), its the GM.

worst case scenario here. I as GM, "allow" someone to attempt to swing from a chandelier without a feat (oh god no!!), at a DC that would have been similar to someone who spent feats on having this skill. Now, this contradiction is VERY likely to only happen only after time passes - for example. in one session I allow the swing without a feat, 3 months later there is a similar situation where a PC with the feat tries it and the inconsistency is noted (if remembered at all), OR a player after the swinging "incident" takes this feat and then objects to the past ruling, with a "well actually..." comment.
"hey GM, why did you let player A 3 months ago swing across with their acrobatics skill at a DC of 20, but this time, when I do have a feat, you are making me roll against a DC of 22?"
"hey GM, remember 3 months ago when I swung across the chasm, and you let you use Acrobatics for this. did you know there is a Chandelier swinger feat for this and you shouldn't have allowed this?"

what should I do? Is PF2 broken? has my responsibility of GM needing to memorize thousands of pages of text ruined the game? no, I answer thusly: "yeah, my bad. sorry, it was a call in the moment. the next time we need to swing across chandelier's you remind me that you have a feat for this, OK? thanks for keeping me honest :)".

This is a collaborative game where the GM is supposed to be on the players side. a game about heroic moments when swinging from a chandelier is supposed to be attempted, be epic, and to make players feel awesome. limiting these heroic moments to situations when only players who, at the exact right moment happen to have specific feats - WHEN NO PLAYER HAS ACTUALLY PICKED THIS FEAT - is bad gm'ing (yup!). expecting only the GM to know every feat is an unreasonable expectation and an undue burden to place on the GM - players should know their Character's capabilities and advocate for their use thank you very much! If any player is going to rage quit because I made a ruling that supported fun over slavish literal interpretation of feat lists - then this is not a player I'm interested in having in my group to begin with. the notion of the GM needing to know 1400 feats (or whatever the number is) in order to play the game or to play (any) game "correctly" is, simply put, a logical fallacy that says more about your mindset as GM than it does about any game "system".

Literally asking the player if they have any feats that support the action, otherwise, as GM, simply consult tables 10-4, 10-5 and 10-6 with maybe a quick reference to the skill and the training levels is all that you need to play the game fairly and consistently...

its this easy:
"I would like to do x"
"do you have a feat to support x"
"yes I do" or "no I don't"
Adjudicate accordingly, and accept from time to time, you may screw up, but likely the screw up will be in favour of the PC and them having a great, awesome, fun time...

[shrug]

ya, but, what about the chandelier swinger feat and taking away its agency within the rules???? well, if nobody picked it in your game - THE FEAT FUNCTIONALLY DOES NOT EXIST, and if someone did, you are guaranteed that the player will tell you they have it and its important to them! how is this hard?

Cheers,

J.

note 1: totally recognizing I too just spewed a bunch of stylistic nonsense about how I run my games, and to each their own and all that. but I honestly read these posts and feel like I must not know something inherent about a certain unwritten style of Pathfinder play, which my laissez faire style seems anathema towards
note 2: I recognize what I said above would get me fired from Organized play, as those game runners should have a better command of all the rules. but I play in home games, not OP, so [shrug?]
 

Level Up!

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top